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Is Iran outmaneuvering Saudi Arabia in Yemen?

Accusations that Iran is aiding Yemen's Houthis increased dramatically in 2009, in large part due to Saudi and Iranian media, though little evidence exists for direct Iranian influence.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) speaks at a news conference with Advisor to Pakistan's Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad April 8, 2015. Zarif said on Wednesday that Pakistan and Iran should cooperate to solve the crisis in Yemen. REUTERS/Caren Firouz - RTR4WKMY
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The war in Yemen is increasingly being construed as a Saudi contest with Iran. To ascertain the veracity of this oft-repeated conception, two things need to be clarified: whether the conflict is driven by sectarian dynamics and what Iran seeks in Yemen.

Yemen has long been the Afghanistan of the Arab world. Most Yemenis live below the poverty rate. The country sits on multiple fault lines, in addition to a long-running border dispute with Saudi Arabia. Following Arab Spring protests, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi came to power through a Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered one-man election, as opposition groups seized on power vacuums. The Houthis have in past months seized major urban centers in collaboration with their old foe (and Hadi’s predecessor) Ali Abdullah Saleh. 

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